ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Public Funding of Universities

In Pursuit of Efficiency, Equity and Excellence

The ongoing protests by the students against the fee hike in Jawaharlal Nehru University have brought to the fore the contentious issue of adequacy of public funding of universities. Assessing the pros and cons of different sources of funding, focusing on the issue of the fee hike, it is argued that public funding of the universities should remain the most preferred source in a country like India to not only mitigate the possible trade-offs among the three objectives of efficiency, equity, and excellence, but also foster publicness of higher education.

Students’ protest against the cost recovery measures mooted by the Jawaharlal Nehru University again brought to the fore contentious issues related to the funding of higher education in a country that is also witnessing rising enrolment. Despite being the third largest higher education sector in the world, the quality of education has continued to be a matter of concern. In pursuit of quality education and earning international reputation, India’s aspiration to feature in the global ranking of universities is evident from the decision to select a few, both public as well as private universities, and accord them with the status of Institutions of Eminence (GoI 2017), allowing additional resources for the public-funded ones and granting them autonomy. The extent of subsidisation of higher education has again become highly debatable in the public discourse. In this article, we begin by highlighting as to why the public funding of higher education is imperative for a nation. Then, we analyse the implications of a fee hike and a few other options available for the universities to mobilise resources, with reference to the public good character of higher education.

Public Funding

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Updated On : 13th Jan, 2020
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